Job Skills

A recent news article said that more than one million people in Florida need a job, but many positions are not being filled because applicants don’t have the proper skills. Employers want enthusiastic people who have a broad knowledge base along with cutting edge skills. Technology keeps changing. Applicants need to keep up with the times to be competitive.

How does this apply to the writer? Most communications today take place via email between editors, agents, and authors. We’re expected to format our manuscripts according to publisher guidelines and know how to follow track changes in Microsoft Word. We’re asked by publishers if we have a webpage, blog, Facebook fan page, and Twitter. It’s great that we can save money by not having to copy and mail manuscripts anymore, but do we save time? Not when we have to keep up with the rapidly changing technology.

A writer can’t get by without these skills nowadays. Never mind that all an author wants to do is write the next book. Too much involvement in these business activities can lead to burnout. One doesn’t get tired of writing the story. One gets tired of the racing train that keeps going in circles, round and round the promotional track. The pressure to stay on top can build to a momentum that forces our creativity to derail. This wasn’t the train we wanted when we got on board, but we’re stuck with it now.

I’m about to get my first eReader device. After much consideration, I’ve decided to get a Kindle. Now I read that the next generation may have E-Ink Color, as opposed to LCD color. As for touch screens, there’s two different types and one is supposed to be better than the other. Dedicated eReader, Tablet, or Smart Phone? Eventually all of these devices may be rolled into one of ideal size and technology to perform multiple functions with clarity and readability under all lighting conditions. But until then, we have to choose which device will serve the purposes we need. We have too many choices, when we should be focusing on word choice instead.

This blog appeared originally at the Kill Zone.

THE E-BOOK CRAZE

The rise of the Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, and the iPhone have fueled a revolution in publishing. More and more readers want to download their books in electronic formats. This brings up several issues for writers. First is the fear that ebooks will replace print books, and brick-and-mortar stores will become a thing of the past. How many people buy music CDs these days? Even libraries are involved in digital lending. About 5400 public libraries today offer e-books and digitally downloaded audio books. NetLibrary, a provider of e-books to libraries, has seen circulation rise 21% this year. I’m not saying books will disappear altogether; they’ll just change format. This affects income for writers since ebooks may sell at a lower price point than print editions. It involves issues of piracy as well as reversion of rights clauses.

E-rights are very important in publishing contracts these days, even for traditionally published authors. Many regular publishers are jumping on the bandwagon and putting out electronic versions of their print published works. Then there are ebook only publishers. Harlequin started Carina Press, a purely e-book venture. Those of us in the writing community have known about Samhain, The Wild Rose Press, Loose ID, and many other ebook pubs, for several years. But herein lies another problem: publisher recognition.

According to the standards of professional writing organizations, some of these publishers do not meet their criteria and are therefore not approved, meaning their authors are not eligible for published author status. This has been a growing point of contention among authors and a thorny issue. The well known ebook pubs have a selective policy and editors scour through manuscripts just like a traditional pub. Editing services are included so an author goes through a similar process as for a print pub. But certain qualifications demanded by professional organizations render these authors little better than self-pubs in status. For example, one writing org requires for recognition that a publisher pays an advance of at least $1000. This lets out many of the ebook pubs who offer no advance, just a royalty rate. Others may offer a small token advance . Some e-book publishers will offer the book as a POD (print-on-demand) as well, either simultaneously with electronic publication or later after certain sales quotas are met. But the profession organizations also demand that an approved publisher must have a print run and distribution of 1000 copies or more of each title they produce. This model doesn’t work for POD presses. How this will play out in the industry remains to be seen. Eventually, the professional writing organizations may have to rethink their definitions of acceptable publishers in lieu of the e-book explosion.

Royalty rates are another problem. For books that don’t have to be printed and stockpiled in warehouses, authors should be able to earn a higher royalty rate. For this reason, authors should carefully compare ebook publishing houses and e-rights clauses to know their options.

Some of these books may appear on bookstore shelves, but for the most part, readers have to order them online. Writers have to step up their Internet promotion and learn how to deal with booksellers who won’t work with ebooks or POD. But one thing is sure: writers who want to get their work in front of as many readers as possible will want their novel available in as a downloadable ebook.

Read more about this topic here:

E-Reads

Libraries article

NY Times articles

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LIVING WILL

My daughter sent me this joke. It’s very appropriate for a writer.

MY LIVING WILL

 Living Will

Last Sunday evening, my kids stopped over for a visit, and while we were all sitting together in the living room, I told them, “I never want to live in a vegetative state, dependent on some machine and fluids from a bottle……and if that ever happens, just pull the plug.”

They got up, unplugged my computer, and threw out my wine.

They’re such asses!